Sometimes it’s difficult to really understand why certain fight cards hold an added allure over others. In the case of UFC 160, set for May 25th in Vegas, the writing is on the wall.
Three trifectas are at work in this one. Firstly, each fighter in the top half of the card is known for a very aggressive fighting style and the ability to end a fight quickly. Secondly, almost all of them are known for possessing devastating KO abilities.
Thirdly, these fights matter in their respective divisions.
Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva is for the heavyweight title (nuff said), Junior Dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt harbors the sentiment that goes along with a true Cinderella story. Hunt is the underdog of the century in this one, and yet he earned his spot, creating a great fight for number one contendership among the heavyweights.
Glover Teixeira vs. James Te-Huna is a total slug fest in the making and also a key light heavyweight matchup, especially if Teixeira wins. Yet Te-Huna is nothing to scoff at with his dangerous striking and well-rounded fight game.
Gray Maynard vs. TJ Grant also involves a tussle with a top contender. Maynard is considered one of the best at lightweight, and with another win, will bring himself within one or two of another title bout. God knows he brought it against Frankie Edgar in their epic trilogy, and don’t be surprised if he manages to finally capture the title he’s fought for twice before.
It’s actually quite amazing there have only been one key injury on the card that I’m aware of up to this point (knock on wood).
~ Antonio Silva vs. Cain Velasquez ~
Everyone knows Silva can’t win this fight. Yet that’s what everyone has been saying for years about the massive heavyweight with the gigantism disease who ironically (or not so much) goes by the moniker, “Bigfoot.”
In 2010 he turned some heads when he defeated former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski by unanimous decision. In 2011 he blew everyone’s mind when he bludgeoned the greatest heavyweight of all time, Fedor Emelianenko, when Fedor’s camp wouldn’t let their man continue after a brutal second round of stifling ground and pound.
When Silva stepped in to the cage against Alistair Overeem, not many thought he would leave with his head attached, much less with a victory, and not at all with the scary TKO victory that earned him his title shot.
Unlike all his former opponents up to this point though, Velasquez is the only one who he’s fought before, and he was completely outclassed. Velasquez was able to use his superior speed and grappling to rush forward, dumping Silva neatly on his back, and delivering some of the most gruesome ground and pound that would make any first hand witnesses look at tomato soup with remorse from then on.
Silva is a competent and durable fighter. He is capable of taking advantage of mistakes at the drop of a hat, and it’s paid off for him up to this point. But the one thing he can’t do is fight off his back, and that’s exactly where Velasquez is going to put him, rest assured.
PREDICTION: It ends exactly like the first time.
~ Junior Dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt ~
This one also appears very one sided, and just like in the main event, the underdog has thrived in this role. Mark Hunt came in to the UFC and lost his first fight, which pushed him to zero wins in his last six bouts. Since then he’s steamrolled over four top level opponents, most recently in Stefan Struve who was ranked eighth in the world at heavyweight.
With a late injury of Alistair Overeem, Hunt has volunteered to step in and fight JDS. It’s hard to imagine him being in this situation, almost as much as it is to see him surviving one round with JDS.
Even though he was able to KO Struve, Chris Tuchscherer, and Cheick Kongo, he looks sloppy and out of shape while doing it. If speed ever killed, it will this time. JDS is simply too fast and strong to be denied this one. His striking technique and physicality is unparalleled, and unless Velasquez knocked something loose in their last fight, I doubt Hunt will have much of a punchers chance to say the least.
PREDICTION: JDS by first round KO
~ Glover Teixeira vs. James Te-Huna ~
Both of these fighters threaten their opponents with devastating knockout power in both hands, both are riding impressive win streaks in the UFC, and both are knocking on the door of title contention in the light heavyweight title picture.
Glover is a solid boxer who looks a lot like JDS when he stalks his prey down and throws devastating combinations until they wobble and drop early, or stumble out of the cage wishing they had. I bet if Rampage was approached and asked if he would’ve rather been finished early, or relentlessly battered for three rounds by Glover, he would at least have to pause and think about it for a moment.
Te-Huna brings heat as well and may cause the upset in this one. Where Glover is confident in his boxing, Te-Huna probably is as well with his 10 fights ending by KO/TKO. If Glover thinks he can get inside Te-Huna’s range without accruing any damage, he’s got another thing coming.
In fact, Glover may be 3-0 (UFC), 18-0 (current win streak), but he’s been rocked by lesser fighters than the one he’s gonna be facing May 25th. If Fabio Maldonado can loosen him up, Te-Huna is one punch away from ending this one at any moment.
PREDICTION: Te-Huna by second round TKO
~ Fighters to watch ~
Keep an eye on Gray Maynard vs. TJ Grant. Both guys are knocking on the door of a lightweight title shot. Look for KJ Noons to continue the tradition of Strikeforce fighters handing UFC vets their asses of late, and (what’s more likely) Donald Cerrone to return in top form and beat Noons down to remain relevant among the best of em.
If you don’t know who Khabib Nurmagomedov is, and yes I won’t be typing his name again, ever, then you might want to start by checking out his win-loss record. Brian Bowles vs. George Roop, Gunnar Nelson vs. Mike Pyle are both candidates for fight of the night in my opinion.